LONDON — Almost 40,000 Spaniards joined the ranks of the unemployed last month, according to figures released  Tuesday, in a country where more young people are now out of work than have jobs.

Spain is at the sharp end of a jobless crisis affecting the economies of the euro zone, as economists predict that the 17-member currency union is heading for recession.

The Spanish newspaper  ABC reported  Tuesday that an additional 7,000 people under 25 were unemployed in March, in line with European Union statistics released the previous day indicating that  50.5 percent of young Spaniards were now without jobs.

The problem is not confined to the euro zone: In Britain, more than one million people under 25 are out of work, the highest number in nearly 20 years.

But across the euro zone, almost 5.5 million young people are unemployed — out of a total of 17 million jobless, a 15-year high — reinforcing concerns that the economic plight of the Continent is producing a “lost generation.”

As Rendezvous noted on Friday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned European leaders that their economies were lagging behind a robust recovery in North America. Since then, the news has only gotten worse.

Unemployment is up across almost the whole of the euro zone, manufacturing output is down and inflation has fallen less than anticipated because of high energy prices.

“Maybe being young is never easy,” Viola Caon, a young Italian wrote in The Guardian newspaper of Britain earlier this year. “But being a twenty-something young European has rarely been more stressful.”

In a survey of European youth unemployment late last year, Naomi Powell wrote in The Globe and Mail, a Canadian daily: “In Britain, they are known as the IPOD Generation — insecure, pressured, overtaxed and debt-ridden. In France, they are the Génération Précaire, young people whose best hope of starting a career is often a shaky temporary job.”

As Ms. Powell noted, it is not just a lack of jobs that is hitting the young. “In many countries, the problem can be blamed in part on a surge in short-term temporary contracts that began in the early 1990s. In Europe’s heavily regulated labor markets, short-term work allows firms to add or subtract workers according to fluctuations in demand.”

There is also a growing public backlash against unpaid internships that campaigners claim have more to do with exploiting young people than with helping them secure full-time employment.

“Access to internships is unequal and unfair,” according to the British lobby group Intern Aware. “By refusing to pay interns a wage, many people are being excluded from accessing the opportunities which would allow them to get the jobs they deserve.”

A new book on the “lost generation,” by Mickaël Mangot, a French economist, asks, “Are young people doomed to live worse off than their parents?”

He attacks an anachronistic taxation and social welfare system that takes away from the young and active and gives to the old and retired. Mr. Mangot calls for changes aimed at greater inter-generational equality that would not leave young people to bear the economic burdens created by the previous generation.